If there were Oscar awards for boating there is no doubt that Boating International would be a firm favourite considering the many winners they have produced over the last year.
So my interest peaked when I learned that manufacturer’s Ace Boating in KwaZulu-Natal had been commissioned to produce an offshore version of the popular pickle-nosed 2050 Sunsport – another great new boat destined for the red carpet and ready to kickstart the New Year.
This certainly was an interesting diversion from the standard V8 inboard model but perhaps not surprising considering the new owner is from the Western Cape and he had specifically requested outboards which he felt were more suited to sea conditions in the area.
Naturally my immediate focus was on the well-designed transom which obviously differs vastly to the inboard version. Two gleaming black 60HP 4-stroke Mercury outboard motors dominated the rear and I could sense the enormous power potential just waiting to burst into action. I couldn’t wait to get going to prove just how much “voomah” these 995cc motors had!
These powerhouses so fitted into the overall look of this outfit that I was hard-pressed to remember that this was a new innovation of this model. The transom well is wide, high and spacious and no amount of backing up will allow water into the boat even though there is a walk-through section from the swim platform into the interior.
I was impressed to see how comfortably the engines nestled on the back with plenty of room all round for easy boarding out of the water. A folding step situated on the port side makes life even easier for swimmers, divers and skiers. By the way, the deck is non-skid so there is no danger of slipping for those who walk around with wet feet.
At the top of the transom-well is a stylish stainless steel ski rail with facility for attaching ski, wakeboard or tube ropes and on either side are two stainless, removable rod holders for fishing. One forgets just how hot summer days can be and so it was a relief to see that there was a canopy fitted to stave off those burning rays, but in this instance it was neatly folded back and well secured on top of the transom well.
Right across the rear is a comfortably wide wraparound bench seat which conceals two batteries underneath – sun bathers will love this spot. A wide, long carpeted ski-hatch in the deck floor is big enough for skis and wakeboards and any other loose paraphernalia.
This really is a good family option as 10 people can all be easily seated on the rear bench seat already mentioned with at least four guests in the bow area. Additional cushions slotted into place converts this seating into a sunbed – there’s also loads of storage space for the cushions (and safety equipment) when not in use.
This is also a great cocktail hour spot as a removable round table on a stainless steel pole can be fitted instead of the extra cushions. Even the driver has been considered and he or she will thoroughly enjoy the plush, swivelling pilot seat that allows full visibility of both the action at the back and whatever looms in front. Lots of legroom makes this an even more enjoyable ride.
In front of the bow seating one finds an ample-sized anchor hatch and folding front deck ladder so there is no shortage of boarding options on this boat.
In the port side console one finds a 24-litre bar fridge for storing refreshments and a glove box for sunglasses, suntan lotion, watches etc. Guests will soon get in the mood thanks to the Sony Marine sound system with MP3 player and four 6.5” speakers to really blow your ears back.
Visibility is excellent through the Perspex windscreen encompassed by a well-styled aluminium frame housing a folding centre door which also serves as a great wind break. It’s amazing how this stops wind funneling down the centre of the boat.
The trip out from the Natal Rod and Reel Club proved uneventful as the waters were calm but once out the harbour mouth the sea became a different proposition altogether. There was a 2m swell running and while there was not a lot of wind, pilot Ernie Candasamy earned my respect as he really handled the rough conditions extremely well. I was soon to find out for myself when I took the wheel exactly how choppy it was and at times we were more airborne than on the water.
The Sea Star hydraulic steering made manoeuvring effortless and I enjoyed using the binnacle-mount controls positioned within easy reach. Power-trim buttons are fitted into these controls.
I switched the engines off for a moment and then swung her into action and was blown away by how easily they started with their electronic fuel-injected system. Mercury’s advertised instant-start really is true – they are also incredibly quiet and do give great all-round performance, reliability and fuel economy.
These Big Foot models fitted with 15”-pitch propellers deliver more thrust and better performance for bigger and heavier boats and are equipped with larger gears and shafts ideal for tougher conditions.
As a pilot you are faced with a shining array of instruments including the usual fuel gauges, voltmeters, trim gauges, rev counters and speedo.
Although the sea didn’t allow us to hit anywhere near full-throttle we went for it in the harbour and reached a top speed of 60 km/h. The Sunsport 2050 jumped onto plane in four seconds and although I had tested a 2050 before, I was reminded how well this hull grips the water. Even in tight turns there was no hint of cavitation.
I was impressed with how safe I felt at all times in the rough sea conditions and I didn’t want to stop as we were having such fun. We could have gone on for hours as there’s a 100-litre fuel tank for ample leisure time (which is well-situated under the motor well). However, as they say all good things must come to an end, so we made our way back to the slipway. Recovery of the boat back onto the trailer was a pleasure.
All in all the new owner of this 2.3m wide boat is in for a treat and I am quite confident that many more models of this ilk will be produced.
For further information contact Boating International (011) 452-8280. Paul Trollope 082 458 4345 firstname.lastname@example.org. Dean Levy 083 267 5358.